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Meet our lovable and highly skilled tracker Gummy.

This week we catch up with our popular and highly knowledgeable tracker Ephraim Mathebula, know by all as Gummy.  Gummy tells us how he first got introduced to wildlife and his remarkable ability to teach young children about the bush and wildlife - big and small...

Tell us about your earliest encounters with wildlife and how that fuelled your passion for the bush?  I had a typical, rural upbringing. Growing up, my parents had livestock, and one of my chores was to look after the animals. Lions would come and catch our livestock, so I learned how to track them to see from their direction. Back then, I realised that if I made a fire, that would keep the Lions away. My love for the bush and tracking started way back then when I was a herdboy.

Morukuru encourages kids to get out and learn about the bush - do you enjoy working with children?  I have a soft spot for children because I looked after my younger brothers and sisters when my parents went out to collect firewood. I also have children of my own.   What tips do you have to get children interested in the bush?  First up - never expect a tired or hungry child to pay attention! I love teaching kids about animals’ tracks and behaviour, and they always respond when they are happy and relaxed.   How did you get your nickname Gummy? Kids like to call me Gummy because I look like a Gummy Bear!   Tell us about your famous stick. I always walk with a stick and not a rifle, and kids find it fascinating. When kids understand animal behaviour and how to behave around them - whether on foot or in a game-vehicle-they are more confident. I love passing my knowledge onto the younger generation.

Share an amazing sighting experience with us. One day, out on a game drive, we had stopped for sundowners. Suddenly we heard the lion in the thick bushes. He then came out of the bushes roaring. We packed up and started following him in our vehicle. We came across fivewhite rhinos with a calf and then one big buffalo during that one excursion. It was amazing to see three out of the big five nearby.   So much of your job is about creating an out-of-this-world experience for your guests...      For sure! We all go that extra mile to make every moment count. For example, before we go on a bushwalk, I make sure the guests get some coffee, cookies, and fruit so they don't get hungry, and  I prepare water bottles, so we keep hydrated. Bushwalks allow me to highlight the smaller, less noticeable creatures. You know how to Interpreting mammal and bird alarm calls - tell us an exciting story about how you reacted to hearing an alarm call in the bush? I find the sand grouse pretty interesting. Did you know that it collects water with its feathers and takes it to its chicks? Once I heard this bird species making a huge racket, I followed up and discovered the sand grouse in a tree with a sneaky snake below on the ground. The bird was warning us all about the snake! Baboons are nature’s alarm - they always warn of danger. Do you have a favourite bird? Woodlands Kingfisher is my favourite bird because I love its call and bright blue colours. I only get to see it once a year because it’s an intra-African migrant.

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